iPad Early Review Consensus: "It's a Winner"

There are the fanboys, the indifferent and, as Sarah Palin might describe them, the "haters." Those categories probably capture the "polarized" camps -- to use David Pogue's word -- surrounding the iPad, which becomes available this weekend. Many were expecting it to flop as an expensive new toy that was seemingly unnecessary and lacked features (e.g., Flash).

However the customary early reviews are in and they praise the device with some reservations. The NY Times' David Pogue "cops out" and writes effectively two reviews, one praising the device and one for its geek-detractors who lament the absence of hardware features. 

Here are the major reviews and some excerpts . . .

Mossberg/WSJ:

So I’ve been using my test iPad heavily day and night, instead of my trusty laptops most of the time. As I got deeper into it, I found the iPad a pleasure to use, and had less and less interest in cracking open my heavier ThinkPad or MacBook. I probably used the laptops about 20% as often as normal, reserving them mainly for writing or editing longer documents, or viewing Web videos in Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash technology, which the iPad doesn’t support, despite its wide popularity online.

My verdict is that, while it has compromises and drawbacks, the iPad can indeed replace a laptop for most data communication, content consumption and even limited content creation, a lot of the time. But it all depends on how you use your computer.

David Pogue/NY Times  (the detractor):

The bottom line is that you can get a laptop for much less money — with a full keyboard, DVD drive, U.S.B. jacks, camera-card slot, camera, the works. Besides: If you’ve already got a laptop and a smartphone, who’s going to carry around a third machine?

David Pogue/NY Times (the fan):

The iPad is so fast and light, the multitouch screen so bright and responsive, the software so easy to navigate, that it really does qualify as a new category of gadget. Some have suggested that it might make a good goof-proof computer for technophobes, the aged and the young; they’re absolutely right.

And the techies are right about another thing: the iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it’s infinitely more convenient for consuming it — books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on. For most people, manipulating these digital materials directly by touching them is a completely new experience — and a deeply satisfying one.

The bottom line is that the iPad has been designed and built by a bunch of perfectionists. If you like the concept, you’ll love the machine.

USAToday (Ed Baig):

The first iPad is a winner. It stacks up as a formidable electronic-reader rival for Amazon's Kindle. It gives portable game machines from Nintendo and Sony a run for their money. At the very least, the iPad will likely drum up mass-market interest in tablet computing in ways that longtime tablet visionary and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates could only dream of. 

Chicago Sun-Times:

After a week with the iPad, I’m convinced that it can do damned-near anything I’d use a notebook for. I’m leaving tomorrow for a few days in New York and I plan on leaving my notebook behind. I’m using the iPad as my sole computer. 

Netflix streaming will also be available on the iPad at launch, which wil give a huge "mainstream" boost to the device. The fence-sitters will likely be out this weekend at Apple and BestBuy stores trying to get a "hands on" look or to actually buy one. It's likely that whatever inventory exists at these stores will sell out and we'll see a press release to that effect on Monday. We'll see. 

We're also likely to see the clones arrive en masse now as Apple establishes tablets as a legitimate category for computing.